This is simple food. Brought up just a notch. I am pretty sure that most readers don’t regularly eat this type of delicious and nutritious side salads (best enjoyed with broiled or fried fish or meats) because they rarely get to markets to buy fresh kamote tops and fewer and fewer people are eating homemade food. But this is precisely the kind of dish we should eat more frequently and serve proudly in restaurants as well…
Basically, you take fresh talbos ng kamote and cut off the tips and some of the young leaves, then blanche it in boiling water for 10 seconds or so, and immediately scoop them out of the water into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Don’t be alarmed by the near jet black water that remains. I have always wondered why we don’t eat this raw, but I have only ever seen it served blanched, so I have to research a bit to ensure I won’t get some violent reaction to eating the leaves raw.
The step of shocking them in cold water is typically not done in most homes, but I find it keeps the leaves “fresher” and more appetizing. Drain well on paper towels (I used a spinner as well) and prepare the other ingredients. If you do this well before your meal, and stick them in the fridge, the leaves tend to go darker, so try to do this at the last minute.
Next I made a dressing (the notch up)… I used some patis or fish sauce, freshly squeezed lime juice, sliced siling labuyo (it was wicked spicy that little chili) a touch of brown sugar and a bit of water. It was more a vietnamese or thai inspired dressing. Locally it is typically made with either vinegar or kalamansi and some fish sauce and chilies. I sliced up some red onions and let them pickle briefly in the dressing to remove their sharp edge.
Add some sliced ripe tomatoes, some julienned cucumber (not typical, but I wanted some crunch and they worked nicely) and the dressing and voila! a quick and healthy side dish. I think good fish sauce and lime or kalamansi work really well with the blanched greens and other ingredients. That’s the photo all the way up top. For this final photo, I got snazzy and baked some cubed pieces of sweet potato with a touch of olive oil and salt and added them on top for color, texture and taste. They looked and tasted pretty good, but didn’t really go with the rest of the salad…so I wouldn’t do that again.